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Revelation RBN 5 review

A five-string for under £500? Now, that is a Revelation...

  • £429.99
Revelation RBN 5
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

With its sumptuous quilted-maple cap, impressive feel and passive tones, the Revelation RBN 5 is one of the best-value five-strings you will find. It's heavy, but a no-brainer for the money.

Pros

  • +

    Classy looks.

  • +

    Passive tones are high-quality and wide ranging.

  • +

    Very approachable neck.

Cons

  • -

    It's heavy.

What is it?

Revelation's speciality is in putting together guitars (opens in new tab) and basses (opens in new tab) that offer a fair degree of playability and quality without tearing an almighty hole in your fiscal stability.

We've seen it before, in smart electric guitar designs such as the TSS short-scale T-style electric and the RJT-60 B, a very cool six-string bass redolent of the Fender Bass VI. But even by Revelation's standards, the RBN 5 is really is pushing it.

It really is quite stunning, with its quilted-maple capped okoume body and matching headstock lending it some boutique airs that bely the sub-£500 price tag. A lot of work has been done on the body profile, with carefully considered contouring making that considerable body a little more approachable, and a deep cutaway on the treble side to aid visits to the top end of the fretboard.

There's no getting around it: the RN 5 is a lunker, weighing a shade under 10lbs, so a thick, padded strap is an essential purchase. But if you can shoulder the weight, the neck, a 34" scale maple bolt-on with a gloss finish and a shallow C-profile that is very à la mode with today's contemporary bass builds. The matching maple fingerboard has abalone fret markers.

The RBN 5 is equipped with a pair of Alan Entwistle Neobass-5 Neodymium humbuckers that are controlled via a passive circuit comprising a pair of volume and tone controls, arranged in-line on a chrome plate that abuts the clear pickguard.

Performance and verdict

While we were addressing the weight a little gingerly, there is an upside to all that bulk if it is transferred to the tones. The RBN 5 delivers a thick sustain and authoritative low end that blooms nicely, filling out the mix. The body shape is of the Jazz-style offset mould but this is a little darker.

Of chief concern with a budget five-string is how that low B string holds up, and the RBN 5's feels good and tight, with no muddiness or mush when played hard. You can really lean into it and play it hard, whether by pick or by fingers.

Also consider...

(Image credit: Future)

Fender Vintera '60s Jazz Bass (opens in new tab)
The original bass offset returns with a host of period-correct features at a very respectable price.

Sterling By Music Man SUB RAY5 (opens in new tab)
At just under £400, you can afford to be less precious about it than you would be about a £2000-plus Stingray 5: it’s seriously great value for money and puts some higher-priced fives to shame.

When you plug the RBN 5 in and with both pickups' tone and volume controls dimed,  the sound has a lovely response, wide open with plenty of clarity and and up-front midrange to add detail to the busiest of basslines. Rolling back the tones takes off some of that aggression, mellowing it out nicely. Of course, hit it hard with a pick and that throatiness rears its head again.

The bridge pickup is all about bruising mid-range and detail, but, again, taking that control back will cool its beans if you need something more subtle.

As for the RBN 5's feel, with the 18mm string spacing and the svelte neck, it's an incredibly accommodating five-string – all the more important because, at this price, you are going to be attractive newcomers to the format, and this makes an excellent first step into the five-string world. 

MusicRadar verdict: With its sumptuous quilted-maple cap, impressive feel and passive tones, the Revelation RBN 5 is one of the best-value five-strings you will find. It's heavy, but a no-brainer for the money.

Specifications

(Image credit: Revelation Guitars)
  • Made In: Indonesia
  • Colour: Dark sunburst, gloss finish
  • Body: Okoume with quilted maple top
  • Neck: Maple, 34” scale, gloss finish
  • Neck Joint: Bolt-on, four-bolt attachment
  • Nut Width: 45mm
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Frets: 21
  • Pickups: 2 x Alan Entwistle Neobass-5 Neodymium humbuckers
  • Electronics: Passive
  • Controls: Volume, volume, tone, tone
  • Hardware: Chrome hardware, standard bridge, open-gear elephant ear machine heads
  • Weight: 4.5 kg / 9.92 lbs
  • Case/gig bag included: No
  • Left-hand option available: No
  • Contact: Revelation Guitars (opens in new tab)

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